Yes, the Internet is finally beginning to impact the way investors buy advice and services from financial advisors. The evolution is very gradual so it is easy to miss. But make no mistake. It is coming and it will impact every financial firm and advisor in America.
Investors already use the Internet to find all types of professionals (advisors, doctors, lawyers, CPAs). They use it to learn more about them and validate the quality of their credentials, ethics, and services.
Investors who use information on the Internet to make better decisions will not be limited to millennials with smaller asset amounts. The Robos are already reporting big increases in the average age of users and their asset amounts.
The single biggest impact will be on the way financial firms and advisors market their services to investors. In the past, advisors controlled the information that was provided to investors and they used sales skills to win new business. These tactics worked when the sales meetings were face-to-face.
The Internet is a major game-changer. Investors have access to substantial amounts of information about advisors and firms without actually talking to them. In fact, they will be able to maintain their anonymity until they are ready to talk, then the conversation may be electronic. Investors will have more control over information and sales skills will have a much smaller impact on their buying decisions.
In the not too distant future, Internet data and tools will help investors determine the quality of financial advisors and firms before they select them. There will be no where to hide. Advisors and firms will win new business based on what investors see on the Internet, not what they hear in sales pitches. New web-based services will make this job much easier in the future for the millions of investors who rely on financial advisors.